How well do panhandlers who are blind or deaf fare?
You know what, [people] act like they're scared of them. The guy that was blind used to sit in front of over there, used to get money. Used to play the accordion, you know, entertaining them. But if he was just sitting there, I don't think they would give to him. No, I think they're scared of them. Deaf people, they have a hard time, 'cause they put those cards ... they don't get that much money.

It all depends on the individual. I believe in charity for everybody. Listen, I don't believe it should be against the law for anyone that's blind to get out and sit out and ask for money. We have about five different blind people, like myself, that's out there [Fifth Avenue]. I don't think they should bother them under any circumstances.
There's actually a blind guy panhandling about two blocks up.
He's up there, and another one used to come named Caesar, used to be here. He was here for like twenty-some years. You have blind people that have signs on their shoulders. That's been going on for fifty, a hundred years, and people give.
See, I'm legally blind. [Robert is missing an eye.] I don't see no harm, no reason in the world why they should stop me being out here, any kind of way. Even if I was asking for something, which I'm not.
I think a blind person should be empowered. I think he should have a right to be out here and trying to help himself, 'cause it's all he can do. I don't think there's nothing he's doing wrong.
How long have you been panhandling?
Well let's see, I got hurt in 1980. And I was in the hospital for four years. After I came out of the hospital, it was about a year and a half—then one day I went downtown, and I seen guys out there riding them trains and bus station things, and I don't like that, riding trains and begging. So I said, let me try that ... I sit right down on 51st street. There was another blind guy out here named Cecil, and his seeing eye dog got hit by a car, and he left. He and I came here.
His dog got hit by a car?
A cab hit him, yeah.
Oh, that's terrible.
And at that point, I came over here and I met people—other blind guys here, and a blind guy down there—and I said, it's a nice neighborhood here.

Do you give to the ill or handicapped?


I Don't Ask, I'm Not a Panhandler


Between the two, who would get your spare change?
"Samuel", a Black man"Andrew", a White man

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All content copyright 1999, Cathy Davies.
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